How to Build a Successful Website

Due to the many news stories in recent years about big corporate websites going bankrupt it is a common misconception today that all or most websites are unprofitable and will not make their owners money. This assumption is based on the idea that if big corporations like Disney fail at making a website then your average guy on the street must fail horribly, of course that assumption is wrong. In the case of content driven websites the smaller independent operation often has the advantage over large corporate entities. While an individual or a small group does not have the resources of the large corporation, they also do not have the overhead. If you run a website out of your basement or your bedroom your overhead is already significantly smaller than that of a major corporation because you're not running your website out of a brand new state-of-the-art office building. Additionally if you only have one employee, yourself, you're also reducing your overhead compared to corporations who have to pay for workers who do the same things you do, but also management, building management, building security, maintenance, marketing consultants, development consultants, secretaries, and a myriad of other positions that by keeping your operation small you don't need. The only advantage a corporation has over an individual is that they can afford to pay for gross amounts of advertising both online and off, whereas the typical individual cannot.

What's great about the Internet is that everyone is on a level playing field. Due to the relatively cheap or free access to search engines you can compete with big websites with minimal investment on your part. You don't need lots of money to run a popular profitable website, all you need is time and know-how, and the time requirement isn't even that much. While some websites may require more maintenance than others a typical site can be managed in your spare time, in the evenings or on weekends.

As far as how much you can make? The sky's the limit, however keep your head firmly planted on earth. It is possible to have a monthly income of a few hundred to a few thousand dollars off a website(s) you run in your spare time, that is an attainable goal. It is also possible to make much more than that, but expecting more is a less realistic goal. Don't go into your website project with the expectation of millions of dollars, chances are it isn't going to happen. However, if you are after supplemental income that will last residually for a long time (quite possibly the rest of your life), then this guide will tell you how to do it.

There are no miracles here or magic systems, you will need to follow the correct steps and you will need to work on things. Your first site might fail, your second one too, but maybe your third site will be the one to succeed. After I launched my first commercial site it took me a year and a half before I started making enough money to live on, which was $2-3,000 per month, and then another 8 months before I started making great money, which was 5 figures a month. There wasn't anything magical about it when I finally became a successful self-employed website publisher. It was the result of work, sacrifice, and learning from my mistakes. I now make a very nice six figure sum yearly, but reaching this point first required that I live on a very strict budget back when my websites were only bringing in a few hundred a month. I have taken everything I learned in my road to success and placed it here. This guide bridges the gap between those who know how to build a website, and those who know how to build a successful website. You will not have to pay for this information, this guide is 100% free.

The articles in this guide assume you have a familiarity with web development technologies. If you do not yet know what server side programming or CSS is you should read our Web Development Primer and familiarize yourself with development lingo.

-Chris Beasley
May 2003